Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

2021 Oscars: The Best Supporting Actress Contenders (February)

The list of contenders in supporting actress is bound to give us a host of previous winners and nominees here and from best actress but also a chance for some first-timers of all ages to break in. Let’s see who we might be talking about at the end of the year.

Sundance performances that generated great buzz including Olivia Colman in The Father (see more below) and a possible breakout from Yuh-Jung Youn, who plays the mischievous grandma in Minari, which won the Grand Prize and the Audience Prize. Last season, The Farewell‘s Zhao Shuzhen was in the conversation and won the Spirit Award for Supporting Female but missed out on Oscar nomination. She was one of the few non-white American or European contenders in supporting actress but voters went for a slate of all white nominees. Here’s hoping the success of The Farewell and Best Picture winner Parasite have opened the door for Asian (specifically East Asian) and American-Asian representation at the Oscars.

2021 Oscars: The Best Actor Contenders (February)

A big debate we’ll see this year (as with almost any year though) will be ‘are they lead or supporting’ and this season will be rich with a lot up in the air until films are seen and strategies are in place. Two years ago, Olivia Colman made the shrewd decision to be put in lead for The Favourite, which worked out for her handsomely when she beat favorite Glenn Close in 2018. With The Father, Colman could very well go lead (the actresses who have in the original play did and won awards for it). Ironically, Glenn Close is on the fence as to whether her character in Hillbilly Elegy is lead or supporting (I’m leaning supporting based on the source material) so another match-up between the two would be interesting. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were legitimate co-leads in their 2015 romance Carol but chose to split categories to increase their chances, which worked as both were nominated (Blanchett in lead, Mara in supporting). The two reunite in Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley and we could see another category split for the two. Add Toni Collette to the mix and we might have another Favourite on our hands with Blanchett going lead and Mara and Collette in supporting. Lord knows it’s time for Collette to get another damn nomination already.

2021 Oscars: The Best Actress Contenders (February)

Rita Moreno is one of only 15 people to earn the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), and still the first and only Latina to do so, but has been away from the awards landscape for decades. She’s gotten close to an Emmy nomination with the Netflix reboot of One Day at a Time (now at PopTV) but now the legendary performer has a chance to return to Oscar with the very project that got her that O back in 1961 – West Side Story. Although she’s not playing Anita, the role that got her the win, the new adaptation, directed by Steven Spielberg for 20th Century, but a smaller role written for her. Will nostalgia be a big enough pull for older voters to get her in or will Ariana DeBose (who also has Netflix’s musical adaptation of the Broadway smash The Prom coming) be the breakout star who takes the batton with her version of the feisty and fiery diva?

Saoirse Ronan just earned her 4th Oscar nomination by the age of 25 and is ready for her 5th in the period drama Ammonite from director Francis Lee (God’s Own Country) alongside Oscar winner Kate Winslet, where they play lovers in 1840s England. Neon, which distributed the French lesbian period drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire (currently in release), just picked this up.

Abigail Breslin, who earned a supporting actress nomination for Little Miss Sunshine and the age of 10, could be back for the first time in Stillwater for Focus Features about a father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter who has been arrested for murder. It’s directed by Tom McCarthy, who helmed Spotlight into a Best Picture Oscar win. Supporting Actress Oscar winner Viola Davis (2016’s Fences) has a full year of lead and supporting performances and the drama Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project (with Sandra Bullock and based on a 2009 British television show) as her best chance to return here. Perennial nominee and three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep could return in The Prom; it’s never smart to discount Streep at this stage. Ruth Negga (nominated in Best Actress for 2016’s Loving) has a juicy role in Passing, the directorial debut of Rebecca Hall that I’m keeping a close eye on.

There’s a substantial list of possible first-time nominees this year and from films that will probably do well in other areas, a perfect opportunity to get swept up for a nomination. Helena Zengel in Universal’s News of the World with Oscar winner Tom Hanks, Amanda Seyfried in Mank for Netflix with Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Emmy winner Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) in The Last Duel (20th Century), Kaimana in Oscar winner Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins (Searchlight Pictures), Julianne Nicholson in Blonde (Netflix) and Olga Merediz for In the Heights (Warner Bros).

Check out a full list below of Best Supporting Actress contenders and my current top 10 (in alphabetical order) for February.

  • Amy Adams or Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
  • Cate Blanchett or Rooney Mara or Toni Collette – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight)
  • Abigail Breslin – Stillwater (Focus Features)
  • Olivia Colman – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Viola Davis – Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project (Netflix)
  • Ariana DeBose – The Prom (Netflix) or West Side Story (20th Century)
  • Rita Moreno – West Side Story (20th Century)
  • Saoirse Ronan – Ammonite (Neon)
  • Meryl Streep – The Prom (Netflix)
  • Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari (A24)


  • Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
  • Awkwafina – Breaking News in Yuba County
  • Cate Blanchett – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight)
  • Mary J. Blige – Respect (MGM)
  • Abigail Breslin – Stillwater (Focus Features)
  • Priyanka Chopra – The White Tiger (Netflix)
  • Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
  • Toni Collette – I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Netflix)
  • Toni Collette – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight)
  • Olivia Colman – The Father (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Jodie Comer – The Last Duel (20th Century)
  • Marion Cotillard – Annette (Amazon)
  • Camille Cottin – Stillwater (Focus Features)
  • Viola Davis – Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project (Netflix)
  • Elizabeth Debicki – Tenet (Warner Bros)
  • Ariana DeBose – The Prom (Netflix)
  • Ariana DeBose – West Side Story (20th Century)
  • Rebecca Ferguson – Dune (Warner Bros)
  • Jodie Foster – Prisoner 760 (STX Entertainment)
  • Aisling Franciosi – Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Project (Netflix)
  • Regina Hall – Breaking News in Yuba County
  • Salma Hayek – The Roads Not Taken (Bleecker Street)
  • Gaby Hoffmann – C’mon C’mon (A24)
  • Jayne Houdyshell – The Humans (A24)
  • Kaimana – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight)
  • Nicole Kidman – The Prom (Netflix)
  • Vicky Krieps – Harry Haft
  • Mila Kunis – Breaking News in Yuba County
  • Kelly Macdonald – Operation Mincemeat (Cohen Media Group)
  • Audra Mcdonald – Respect (MGM)
  • Rooney Mara – Nightmare Alley (Searchlight)
  • Frances McDormand – The French Dispatch (Searchlight)
  • Frances McDormand – Macbeth (A24)
  • Olga Merediz – In the Heights (Warner Bros)
  • Rita Moreno – West Side Story (20th Century)
  • Elisabeth Moss – Next Goal Wins (Searchlight)
  • Ruth Negga – Passing
  • Julianne Nicholson – Blonde (Netflix)
  • Margaret Qualley – My Salinger Year
  • Saoirse Ronan – Ammonite (Neon)
  • Talia Ryder – Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Focus Features)
  • Amanda Seyfried – Mank (Netflix)
  • Meryl Streep – The Prom (Netflix)
  • Marisa Tomei – The King of Staten Island (Paramount)
  • Alicia Vikander – Green Knight (A24)
  • Sigourney Weaver – My Salinger Year
  • Samira Wiley – Red, White, Water (A24)
  • Debra Winger – Kajillionaire (A24)
  • Shailene Woodley – Prisoner 760 (STX Entertainment)
  • Yuh-Jung Youn – Minari (A24)
  • Helena Zengel – News of the World (Universal)
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